The Miami Marlins are in the process of dismantling a professional baseball team faster than ever thought imaginable. Less than a month after trading Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, John Buck, and Emilio Bonifacio to the Toronto Blue Jays for Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Alvarez, Anthony DeSclafani, Justin Nicolino, Jeff Mathis, and Jake Marisnick the Marlins are at it again. This time the team has traded Yunel Escobar, and his giant $5 million salary, to the Tampa Bay Rays for minor leaguer Derek Dietrich. While the Marlins have gotten younger and out from under several long term deals that could end badly, they have however done little to improve their team.
The Associated Press has reported as it stands now after the Escobar trade, the Marlins opening day roster would make a combined $38 million in 2013. This would mean a Major League Baseball team would only be making $10 million more than Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees. If Rodriguez is able to hit 13 home runs this year he will receive a $6 million bonus from the Yankees for matching the career home run total of Willie Mays, taking his 2013 salary to $34 million. This closes the gap to only $4 million, unfortunately for Marlins fans, if any are left after this latest fire sale, the $38 million opening payroll is deceiving.
The projected $38 million payroll will not all be spent on players playing for the 2013 Miami Marlins. Nearly twenty percent, $7 million, will be used to pay former players to play for someone else. Toronto will be receiving $4.5 million of this money to help pay the players the Marlins traded to the Blue Jays. The pain does not end there. The Marlins will send $1.5 million to the Arizona Diamondback to help pay Heath Bell as well as an addition $1 million to cover part of the signing bonus Bell got when he signed with the Marlins. If you have been keeping track of the numbers this puts the Miami Marlins on opening day with the players on their team at $31 million. A $31 million payroll divided by a 25 man roster equals out to $1.24 million per player. The Major League minimum for 2013 will be $480,000.
If the situation was not bad enough, now the highest paid played on the team, Ricky Nolasco, and the $11.5 million he is due this season, wants out of Miami. Honestly, who can blame him. I would not be surprised if the Marlins realize how much they owe him and trade him for prospects and a cheaper major league pitcher, probably in the $1 to $3 million range. If Nolasco is traded, the Marlins opening day roster could have a combined salary of roughly $20 million. If the Marlins manage to keep their payroll under $20 million there would be 14 players who made more individually during the 2012 season than the Marlins opening day roster is due for all of 2013.
The Miami Marlins have single handedly ruined any chance for professional baseball to grow and develop in Miami. While the Rays continually have one of the lowest payrolls in baseball, they are also competitive year after year in the AL East. The Rays are a prime example of how low payrolls do not automatically mean high low totals. No one should believe this salary dump by the Marlins was about getting better. Instead it was about saving money, and not putting a quality product on the field of their new tax payer paid for stadium.